A teacher's assistant at a preschool in Hawaii may lose her job for eating her homemade lunches in front of her students.
Carissa Lee O'Connell started bring healthy, organic lunches to school about four months ago because her severe allergies were really getting to her. Each day before she would head off to Hawaii Kai preschool, her husband, Rick O'Connell, would prepare her lunch. At that point, Carissa Lee’s allergies started to get better.
The teacher's aide was given a verbal warning about her lunches last month and she was served with a written notice from KCAA Preschools of Hawaii advising her that if she continued to eat food from home in front of the children, she would be fired.
In the letter, campus director Wendy Nishimura wrote: “Staff who choose not to eat the meals provided, may eat their own food during their break or after the meal service for the children is completed.”
Apparently the school is trying to create an atmosphere during lunch where staff and teachers can talk to the children about the food that is being served in the lunchroom. When Carissa Lee brings food from home, school administrators feel that setting is disrupted, The Daily Mail reported.
Since receiving the warning, Carissa Lee has been having trouble sleeping.
“I definitely haven't slept well and I can't really focus on my work all the time because I'm always thinking about what my director might see, and how she's going to use that against me,” she said.
“I really enjoy being with the kids, having fun and seeing them every day,” she added. “They're making me eat my lunch away from everybody else just because my director feels uncomfortable about the situation.”
Rick thinks his wife is being targeted unfairly by the preschool.
“Her tax dollars can go into a program that [children] are being fed with, but she can be ostracized for eating a certain way to maintain her health,” he said. “She's got a choice to either keep her job, or keep her health. That's just a horrible choice for anybody to have to make.”